2020-21 UMass Hockey Season Preview

By: Bri Repetto

Welcome back all fans, students, and alum for the 2020-2021 University of Massachusetts hockey season! Fortunately for us, Hockey East is in play and we have a very exciting new team to bring home some victories.

We all understand that last season was tragically cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and in turn for this year, many guidelines and restrictions are being set forth to protect the players and fans. The downside to this is that fans are not permitted in the games, which means we still have some time before we can set foot into our beloved Mullins Center again. Instead of being there in person, you can pay $25 for a cutout of yourself to be placed in Mullins and seen by everyone watching at home!

Rest assured, though, we still have one of the best hockey teams in the country and 28 amazing games to come. This season will be unlike any other, as the Minutemen will face each team in back-to-back games as opposed to traveling from game-to-game.

With the addition of nine new players, we have a fresh new team this year. From the transition of last season to this one, we have lost seniors Niko Hildenbrand, Jake McLaughlin, and Jack Suter. We also lost two great forwards in Mitchell Chaffee and John Leonard as they begin their NHL careers – best of luck to both of them! For this season, Coach Carvel has added seven freshmen, including Linden Alger, Josh Lepina, Garrett Wait, Oliver MacDonald, Ryan Sullivan, Aaron Bonlinger, and Henry Graham. In addition, we have gained two transfers, a graduate student from St. Lawrence College in Carson Gicewicz, and a sophomore from Providence College in Jerry Harding. Carvel also named Jake Gaudet as captain and Marc Del Gaizo and Bobby Trivingo as alternate captains. 

The Hockey East rankings have been made, and low and behold, UMass ranks #2. On top of that, the Minutemen are ranked in the top 10 nationally as the seventh-best team. Over the past few years, UMass has done a great job of staying high in the ranks, as the finished second in Hockey East and ninth in the nation last year. Be sure to watch as your Minutemen hold on to this top spot and continue to take on rival teams like Boston College and UMass Lowell. Last year, we played Boston College three times with a 1-2 season record, and faced UMass Lowell twice with a 1-1 season tie. Moving forward, there is a great deal of potential for the Minutemen to improve on those win totals and further dominate in the standings.

Luckily for us, goalies Matt Murray and Filip Lindberg will once again protect the net for the Minutemen. Both players are placed as the top three goalies in all of Hockey East; Matt Murrary at #1 and Filip Lindberg at #3. Between their solid goaltending and impressive set of defenders and forwards, UMass is going to be a tough team to beat. On defense, we have strong players such as Marc Del Gaizo, Zac Jones, and Ty Farmer. We also have returning forwards such as Oliver Chau, Reed Lebester, and Bobby Trivigno to put pressure on opposing defenses.

If you want to keep up with UMass Hockey and cheer on your Minutemen (as you should), then be sure to watch them on NESNPLUS, NESN, and CBS Sports through CollegeSportsLive.com. Definitely be watching on December 26 and 27 as the Minutemen take on rival UMass Lowell, January 15 and 16 when the boys face Boston College back-to-back in a highly anticipated series, and against Northeastern on February 19 and 20.

Last season started off rough with the first of their matchups being a 1-3 loss, as it was only the second game of the season. However, UMass didn’t take that lightly and completely took control of the second matchup with a 6-3 win. I was there at Matthews Arena where Northeastern’s fans were hyped with an early 2-0 lead. UMass would then go on to score five straight goals from top goal scorers Bobby Trivingo and John Leonard, along with a pair of goals from freshmen Matthew Kessel and Reed Lebster. Even Northeastern fans were admiring the Minutemen’s ability to score as goal after goal kept adding up. Here I was waiting to get heat for cheering as we took the lead, and I was actually watching Northeastern fans jump on the UMass train instead. However, it became apparent that they were going to win the third game against Northeastern for the sheer fact that they already proved to be more talented than Northeastern. The Minutemen went on the next night to beat the Huskies once more at home with goals by John Leonard, Jermey Davidson, Jack Suter, and Mitchell Chaffee.

It was a shame that the Hockey East quarterfinals were canceled due to COVID because I’m sure those games against Northeastern would have been extremely intense. Along with the sheer talent of both teams, you add the pressure of a championship setting, and everyone is playing ten times harder. Do I believe UMass would have won out over the Huskies? Yes, I do. After seeing how far apart the goal differentials were, and knowing how each team played, I think UMass would have been the ones to advance. However, I think the games would have been tougher than what they faced in the regular season, and Northeastern would have definitely put up a strong fight. Tune in this season to see how we match up once more and if we can turn a loss a year ago against them into two wins.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the Militia Hockey Blogs as the season continues. I am hoping to add more features to allow a better insight on all things UMass Hockey for the fans and to keep everyone connected during these hard times. Like I’ve stated many times, we have a great team heading into the season, and they are definitely a must watch as we approach the first game on Nov. 20 – which is against my home state’s flagship school, The University of Connecticut. With that being said, be safe everyone, be sure to follow along, and GO UMASS! 

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